Quote of the day: Block 37 disappoints

It is a major architectural disappointment, a light-filled upgrade for the underground pedway system and an urban hub whose potential won’t be realized for years, if ever.

… Tenants have signed up for only 55 percent of the mall’s space, according to the Freed company, and just a handful of stores are open so far. There is no Chicago Transit Authority “superstation” that will whisk passengers to O’Hare and Midway airports. With the project reportedly $100 million over budget, the agency mothballed the station last year, saying it would need a private partner to complete the job.

… The four-story shopping mall, designed by the Chicago office of Gensler, eventually may have hotel and residential towers built atop it. At this stage, its wispy metal and glass exterior lacks the sculptural presence or structural vigor to stand up to such muscular neighbors as the former Marshall Field & Co. store (now Macy’s) and the Daley Center courts building.

… If nothing else, the atrium brings natural light and high-ceilinged open space into the cramped gloom of the pedway. However, it fails to give Chicago the equivalent of the Crystal Court at the IDS Center in Minneapolis, the glass-enclosed town square that serves as a focal point for that city’s skywalk system.

That’s a significant lost opportunity.

– Tribune architecture critic Blair Kamin, offering his first impressions of the new shopping mall at Block 37 in the Loop.

In the second half of his video tour through Block 37, Joe Zekas checks out more of the mall’s empty retail spaces, including several fronting State Street.

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